Surgical recovery and rehab

background

Surgery is a medical procedure that involves operating on a patient in order to repair, replace, or remove a damaged part of the body. In some cases, a surgical procedure (such as a biopsy) may be used to diagnose an illness.
More than 25 million surgical procedures are performed each year in the United States.
A planned surgery generally involves four steps: a surgical consultation, a pre-surgical visit, surgery, and patient discharge. These steps ensure that the patient understands the potential risks and benefits of the procedure. They also ensure that the patient is healthy enough to undergo surgery with minimal risks of complications.
During the surgical consultation, the surgeon meets with the patient to discuss the procedure and answer any questions. Patients who are unsure if they want to undergo surgery can visit another doctor for a second opinion. Patients should contact their health insurance companies to determine if procedures are covered.
A day or two before surgery, the patient meets with the surgeon and anesthesiologist for a medical examination. The purpose of this visit is to make sure the patient is physically ready for surgery and to determine the safest anesthesia for the patient.
On the day of surgery, the patient is admitted to the hospital. The patient is prepped for surgery and brought to the operating room, where the surgery is performed.
After surgery, the patient either stays at the hospital for a certain amount of time to recover, or the patient is sent home. When the patient is released from the hospital, the doctor provides instructions on how to take care of him/herself.
An emergency surgery is not planned ahead of time. This surgery is performed when the patient's life or wellbeing is in danger. Because the medical team has less time to perform the surgery and less information about the patient, there is a higher death rate associated with emergency surgeries than planned surgeries.
The length of time it takes to recover after surgery varies depending on the specific type of surgery, as well as the patient's age and overall health.

Related Terms

Cardiac rehabilitation, geriatric rehabilitation, invasive medical procedures, nasal surgery, pain, perioperative health, postoperative, postoperative atelectasis, pouchitis, preparation for surgery, rehabilitation, vestibular rehabilitation.

recommendations before surgery

General: Listed below are general recommendations before a planned surgery. Patients who are preparing for surgery should strictly follow the instructions of their healthcare providers.
Surgical consultation: During the surgical consultation, the patient meets with the surgeon to discuss the procedure. The surgeon will discuss the potential risks and benefits of the surgery to ensure that the patient is making an informed decision about the surgery. This is also an opportunity for the patient to ask any questions he/she may have about the procedure. It is a good idea to write down questions ahead of time to make sure they are not forgotten. Individuals may also wish to bring a friend or family member to help them take notes and ask questions.
Pre-surgical visit: The pre-surgical visit is usually one day before surgery. During the visit, the doctor will examine the patient to make sure he/she is in good medical condition to undergo surgery. The patient's blood pressure and temperature are taken. Blood and urine tests may also be performed. The doctor will also determine what type of anesthesia is safe for the patient. The patient should be prepared to answer many questions. For instance, doctors typically ask if the patient is taking any drugs (prescription, over-the-counter, or recreational), herbs, or supplements. The doctor may also ask if the patient has any food or drug allergies.
Do not eat before surgery: In order to avoid complications after surgery, the patient must limit what he/she eats and drinks before surgery. This is because it is possible for food to be vomited and inhaled into the lungs (called aspiration) during surgery. Most procedures require patients to abstain from food and drinks after midnight before surgery. This includes gum and candy. Diabetics may need to follow different guidelines. Patients should ask their healthcare providers about drinking clear liquids. In some cases, patients are allowed to drink one eight-ounce glass of clear liquid (including water, black coffee, or apple juice) up to two hours before surgery. Patients should not drink alcoholic beverages for 24 hours before surgery. On the day of surgery, be sure to tell the doctor or nurse if any food or drinks were consumed after the time the patient was told to stop eating or drinking.
Avoid certain drugs, herbs, and supplements: During the surgical consultation and pre-surgical visit, the healthcare provider will ask if the patient is taking any drugs (prescription, over-the-counter, or recreational), herbs, or supplements. The healthcare provider will let the patient know if any of these substances are unsafe to take before surgery. In many cases, drugs, herbs, or supplements are avoided before and after surgery to prevent compilations or interactions.
Do no smoke: Patients who smoke are advised not to smoke after midnight before surgery. If patients are unable to stop, they should try to reduce the amount they smoke.
Do not wear accessories or makeup: It is recommended that patients do not wear jewelry when they are admitted to the hospital. This is because the jewelry will need to be taken off during surgery. Do not wear any makeup, including nail polish, on the day of surgery. This is because makeup may contaminate the incision or hide important signs of surgical complications. For instance, nail polish must be removed because healthcare professionals need to be able to see the fingernail to check the patient's circulation.

the day of surgery

Sign a consent form: On the day of surgery, the patient will sign a consent form. This form indicates that the patient understands what the surgery is for, as well as the potential risks and benefits.
Check in: On the day of surgery, the patient is admitted to the hospital. The patient will be given a medical identification bracelet and a medical gown to wear.
Medical exam: The healthcare provider will perform a brief medical exam immediately before surgery. This ensures that there are no changes in the patient's health, and the patient is still able to undergo surgery. Patients should tell their doctors if they are taking or were taking any drugs (prescription or over-the counter), herbs, or supplements. Patients should also be prepared to answer any questions about their medical history.
The anesthesiologist will recheck the patient's medical history and test results. The anesthesiologist may then give the patient a sedative to help him/her relax before surgery. This sedative may be taken by mouth or injected into a vein.
Transportation to surgery: The patient is then taken to surgery in a wheelchair or a bed (called a gurney), even if the individual is capable of walking. This ensures that the patient will get to surgery safely.
In some cases, patients are brought to a waiting area (called a holding area) before they are taken to the operating room. Sometimes (especially when the patient is a child), one or two of the patient's friends or family members are allowed to wait in the holding area with the patient. If the patient needs to have his/her hair shaved, this may also be performed in the holding area.
The patient is then taken to the operating room (OR).
Anesthesia is given: Once patients are in the OR, they are given anesthesia. There are three types of anesthesia: general anesthesia, regional anesthesia, and local anesthesia. General anesthesia causes the patient to fall asleep and feel no pain. Patients who receive general anesthesia will be intubated, which means they will have a tube placed in their throats to help them breathe while they are asleep. Regional anesthesia is used to numb a general area of the body, such as an arm or leg. Local anesthesia is used to numb more specific parts of the body, such as an area of skin on the arm.

after surgery

Recovery room: Once the surgery is over, the patient is brought to the recovery room, also called the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). The patient is closely monitored as the anesthesia starts to wear off. As the patient starts to wake up, a nurse will give the patient medication to reduce any pain from the surgery. Most patients spend one to four hours in the PACU.
In the meantime, the surgeon meets with the patient's family and friends to let them know how surgery went. The surgeon will also answer any questions they may have.
Surgeries that required local anesthesia (such as biopsies) may be performed in a doctor's office or hospital and have shorter recovery times.
Discharged: Patients who underwent minor surgery and are in good condition are discharged from the hospital. Outpatients must be able to drink fluids without vomiting, be able to sit upright without fainting, and urinate on their own before they will be sent home.
Patients who underwent more serious surgery are admitted to a room in the hospital. When the doctor is satisfied that the patient's condition is stable and pain has been treated appropriately, the patient is sent home.
Once discharged from the hospital, patients should not drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 24 hours. Alcohol should not be consumed for at least 24 hours as well. Upon leaving, the doctor will give the patient instructions (called discharge instruction) on how to care for him/herself. Patients should follow these instructions exactly. Patients should talk to their doctors if the directions are unclear or if they have any questions.